MSA Elections: ‘New and fresh’ Activate ready to take on Together heavyweight

The NUS women’s department has campaigned hard against sexual assault on campus and Activate plan to work alongside the Union when addressing assault and harassment on campus.

By SELBY STEWART

A new contender has emerged for next week’s MSA elections as Activate prepare to wrestle power off incumbent party Together.

But the new arrival has already fought off suggestions that it is “simply a Go! rebrand”.

Activate’s 2018 presidential candidate Despina Skourlis said the party would be pushing for “bigger and better” changes to campus life and would implement “concrete policies” surrounding sexual assault and Arts cuts, if elected.

“We think we can do bigger and better when it comes to campus life,” Ms Skourlis said.

“Not everyone can make events during a weekday so we will have a wider range of entertaining events that are accessible for everyone – especially those with hard timetables.”

The party has said it would take advantage of the current “campus climate” around sexual assault and implement the National Union of Students’ (NUS) demands, handed down by the women’s department in August this year.  

“We will be committed to running an effective campaign against sexual assault and harassment on campus alongside the NUS to ensure the university is adopting their regulations,” Ms Skourlis said.

“This includes pushing the university to change policies and making sure there is sufficient training and policy that can be followed,” she said.

“This is the most crucial time to be fighting against sexual assault on campus.”

University cuts to the Arts Faculty have re-emerged as a big ticket item this year and Ms Skourlis said Activate would push the MSA to take a “stronger stand” against funding cuts.

“I myself have felt the effects from the cuts; people get less assignment feedback, there are bigger classes and less face-to-face time,” she said.

“Activate would push the MSA to take a strong stand against the university. It’s about making sure all students’ experiences of their education are quality.”

Despite several members under Activate’s 2018 ticket having previously held positions under Go!, the party has strongly refuted any claims it was a rebrand of the old party.

“Activate is a whole bunch of new and fresh, amazing students who really want to make a change,” Ms Skourlis said.

“I don’t think we are just a reincarnation of Go!, a lot of people from Go! are running with other tickets,” she said. 

“We are just a group of progressive people who want to make a change and we see the MSA as an avenue to change.”

The Australian Labor Party has again played a role in the lead up to the elections, with Together loosely associated with the Labor Right faction.

Go! was linked to Labor Left last year.

But Despina said the she was not concerned with Together’s political affiliations.  

“I’m not worried about that but my concern would be if they politicised a space that shouldn’t be political,” she said.

“I am aware of their affiliations but they aren’t worrying me at the moment.”